Mya Taylor just made history: On Saturday afternoon, she became the first transgender performer to win a high-profile Hollywood accolade.
Honored for her work in “Tangerine,” Taylor took home the Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female. It marked the culmination of a lengthy awards season for the movie, whose distributor, Magnolia Pictures, staged a low-key Oscar campaign that also garnered Taylor a Gotham Award for Breakthrough Actor.
At the Independent Spirit Awards, which recognize American movies made for less than $20 million, Taylor was up against Robin Bartlett (“H.”), Jennifer Jason Leigh (“Anomalisa”), Marin Ireland (“Glass Chin”) and Cynthia Nixon (“James White”). Her co-star, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, was nominated for Best Female Lead, but lost to Brie Larson (“Room”).
“There is transgender talent,” Taylor said during her acceptance speech. “There’s very beautiful transgender talent. So, you better get it out there and put it in your next movie.”
Taylor, 24, isn’t the first transgender performer to earn an Indie Spirit nomination, however. That distinction belongs to Harmony Santana, a 2012 nominee for the drama “Gun Hill Road.” Taylor is, however, along with Idris Elba, one of the only black performers to score acting prizes throughout this awards season. (Neither is nominated for an Oscar because #OscarsSoWhite.)
“Tangerine,” one of 2015’s most memorable indie-film victories, revolves around two transgender sex workers who traverse Los Angeles in pursuit of their pimp. Director Sean Baker shot the movie using iPhones and a shoestring budget. It premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and rode a wave of critical plaudits.
“Tangerine” is now available on Netflix, and you’d be a fool not to watch it.